Arizona State University Grad Brings Understanding of Navajo Culture


Tiffiney Yazzie grew up in northern Arizona immersed in traditional Navajo ways, and she has brought that culture to Arizona State University (ASU) through her photography, especially with her exhibition Diné Bikéyah: Familiar Views, Foreign Eyes.

The exhibit features moments captured when Yazzie and fellow photography majors spent a week with her grandparents in Chinle, Arizona without running water, electricity or indoor plumbing.

“Tiffiney has combined her love of photography with her respect and dedication to her cultural background as a Native American of the Navajo tribe,” wrote Adriene Jenik, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts School of Art director.

The exhibit was shown in the Herberger Institute’s Step Gallery in September 2010, as well as other ASU locations and the Olney Gallery in Phoenix.

Yazzie graduated in May and her final project showcased her mother, Rosita Yazzie.

“Certainly the pictures are full of love and warmth, but in Tiffiney’s images the toughness and determination to live the traditional way emerge as part of her mother’s extraordinary beauty,” said Bill Jenkins, ASU photography associate professor.

Her mother encouraged her to take college-level classes in high school.

“My mom pushed me in high school, but I’m glad she did because it really does help,” Yazzie said.

Before discovering her passion for art history and photography, Yazzie’s dream was to become a doctor.

“I love the idea of capturing an image and expressing myself through it,” she said.

After graduation Yazzie returned to the reservation where she is spending time with family and working on finishing photo projects.